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re: I'm Addy Osmani, Ask Me Anything! VIEW POST

FULL DISCUSSION
 

What was the book writing process like? How did you balance something so long form with technologies that are constantly changing/improving? i.e. did you have to go back to the 'first chapter' at the end, and update anything?

 

The approach I take to writing books and articles is embracing "The Ugly First Draft". It forces you to get the key ideas for a draft out of your head and once you've got something on paper you can circle back and start to build on that base. I love this process because you get the short-term satisfaction of having "something" done but still have enough of an outline you can iterate on it.

With my first book, "Learning JavaScript Design Patterns", the first draft was written in about a week. It was pretty awful :) However, it really helped frame the key concepts I wanted the book to capture and gave me something I could share with friends and colleagues for their input. It took a year to shape my first ugly draft of that book into something that could be published.

On writing about technologies that are constantly changing - I think every writer struggles with this. My opinion is books are great for fundamental topics that are likely to still be valuable to readers many years into the future. Sometimes topics like patterns you would use with a JavaScript framework or how to use a particular third-party API might be better served as short-lived blog posts (with less of the editorial process blocking you). You're still spreading your knowledge out there but some mediums are better than others for technologies that change regularly.

This is especially true of the front-end :)

 

With my first book, "Learning JavaScript Design Patterns", the first draft was written in about a week.

Yikes, it took me nearly 9 months to put together the first draft of Build Reactive Websites with RxJS. What's your secret?

My ugly drafts are really, really ugly :)

It'll sound awful, but I have never intentionally written a book or long article. Often, there will be a topic I'm deeply invested in learning more about or writing about and I'll just try to consistently take time out every day to build on the draft.

With the first draft of the patterns book, I wanted to write an article about the topic so I started there and it just grew. I would stay up late and keep writing into the early hours of the morning each day during that week. The first draft wasn't very long - it may have been 60 pages of content.

However, the very early versions are not something I would have felt confident sharing with anyone. There were many parts with half-complete thoughts. It lacked a lot of structure. Many of these are things you have a better chance at getting right when spending 9-12 months on your first draft. I ended up spending that long on rewrites.

Apropos of books and long articles, thank you a lot for Images.guide. It was illuminating and also very useful to make clients understand that re-inventing image resizing each time is usually not the best move :D

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